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Forum Reflections by Durham Students

18th July 2019

by Elizabeth Cunningham, Priyanka Vanama-Rathna and Julia Dowden, Durham University

The presentations and workshops at the Matariki Global Citizenship Forum allowed me to gain a more holistic view of how the theme of empowering learners is incorporated in the various universities at the conference. With Durham University being very unique in its collegiate system, hearing about different universities and students’ experiences burst the bubble of my prior, localised knowledge of how to empower learners. This made me think outside of the box with regards to how Durham can change and bring in new mediums in which our students can be empowered, as inspired by other universities. The conference expanded my awareness of what it means to be a global citizen, and it made me question and critically analyse the term I previously thought I knew. 


I engaged with the forum not knowing what to expect, but was determined to obtain concrete solutions to Global problems surrounding empowering learners. Having interacted and networked with delegates from all the 7 partner universities was an eye opener in terms of the different viewpoints on what empowering learnersand a global citizen meant. I was also a part of the project group focusing on sustainability, where we brainstormed ideas on how we can make the forum and our university’s more sustainable in terms of the environment, society and culture. One main takeaway for me through this forum is that global citizenship and all the topics surrounding it is a journey rather than a destination.


I am humbled and very grateful to have been part of such an engaging and thought provoking conference at my home institution of Durham University this July. The discussions covering topics from sustainability to sexual violence encoruaged me to critique my own student experiences and how I navigate the world as a global citizen. The diversity amongst institutions in initiatives and approaches to empowering learners in the classroom and beyond allowed for debate to flourish in order to deconstruct conceptions of empowerment and global citizenship. Throughout the conference, I was left feeling inspired by my peers and supporting faculty members and it was refreshing to be surrounded by such like-minded individuals, committed to enacting real change and wanting to see a difference in the framing of global citizenship and our relations to it as students. From the conference, this is best achieved through the facilitation of conversation and allowing oneself to be more open minded to explore a broad range of ideas. Overall, I am excited for the future and to hopefully continue my involvement to see the Matariki network inspiring, educating and supporting students in questioning the world in front of them.